By Calondra McArthur, WhyHunger’s Communications Coordinator.
To recognize National Food Day on October 24th, WhyHunger spoke with partner organization Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard (MHC) about their participation in Food Day and the work they do 365 days a year. Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, located in Bloomington, Indiana, shares the belief that food is a basic human right and works to ensure that all people have access to healthy, whole foods while providing opportunities to build self-reliance. Below, Stephanie Solomon, Director of Education and Outreach, gives her insight on the importance of Food Day and ways to get involved at any time to positively impact your local food system.
I’ve been at MHC since 2007 and during that time I have been involved in pantry operations and nutrition, as well as, garden and youth garden programs. I’ve seen MHC grow from a food pantry to an organization that serves as a complete food resource center for our community. Now, as the Director of Education and Outreach, I oversee the education programs (nutrition, garden, youth garden), pantry outreach, and our free lending library of gardening and nutrition supplies, the Tool Share. It is important for us to not only be involved with supplying emergency food, but focusing on advocacy and policy reform for long-term change in the food system.
How did MHC participate in National Food Day?
We partnered with the Bloomington Food Policy Council to host our “Pie Fest” event that included pie baking demonstrations, fruit tree planting, care demonstrations, and a pie-in-the-sky community food summit to identify problems and brainstorm solutions critical to our local food system. Our goal was to inform the community about our available programs and services, and spark dialogue that created open conversation with input from everyone about how we can better support those struggling to get food on the table. Essentially, it was a wonderful example of how food can bring people together for a greater good.
This year’s Food Day focused on food access and justice for food and farm workers, why do you think this is important?
I think it’s very important to increase awareness on the link between those who provide and serve our food and their fight for a living wage. It’s critical to making strides in eliminating hunger and poverty, and in the larger conservation of food justice, food and farm workers can get left behind. Making that real connection helps in the advocacy for change.
What efforts have you seen in your community that are making a difference and can be replicated elsewhere?
In our community there is a concentrated effort to increase the amount of people growing their own food. The Bloomington Community Orchard is a public fruit orchard that is open to all, not just people with low-incomes, that provides free fruit and gives planting demonstrations. We also work with the Local Growers Guild, which is an organization that works to support small farmers by encouraging seed bulk buying and providing workshops and farm tours. I believe that providing education and networking with farmers are key things that everyone can do to pull resources together and strengthen the local farm community.
What are simple actions that people can do to better support their local food system?
Grow some food on your own, even if it’s just a couple of herbs in your kitchen and really get to know your local farmers to understand what their needs are.
Thank you for your time, Stephanie! Learn more about Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard at www.mchfoodpantry.org.